HEALTH / WELL-BEING

Building Capacity for Complementary and Integrative Medicine Through a Large, Cross-Agency, Acupuncture Training Program: Lessons Learned from a Military Health System and Veterans Health Administration Joint Initiative Project (US)

Article

This article explores the use of complementary and integrative medicine within the US Military Health System and Veterans Health Administration.

Abstract

Complementary and integrative medicine (CIM) use in the USA continues to expand, including within the Military Health System (MHS) and Veterans Health Administration (VHA). To mitigate the opioid crisis and provide additional non-pharmacological pain management options, a large cross-agency collaborative project sought to develop and implement a systems-wide curriculum, entitled Acupuncture Training Across Clinical Settings (ATACS). ATACS curriculum content and structure were created and refined over the course of the project in response to consultations with Subject Matter Experts and provider feedback. Course content was developed to be applicable to the MHS and VHA environments and training was open to many types of providers. Training included a 4-hr didactic and “hands on” clinical training program focused on a single auricular acupuncture protocol, Battlefield Acupuncture. Trainee learning and skills proficiency were evaluated by trainer-observation and written examination. Immediately following training, providers completed an evaluation survey on their ATACS experience. One month later, they were asked to complete another survey regarding their auricular acupuncture use and barriers to use. The present evaluation describes the ATACS curriculum, faculty and trainee characteristics, as well as trainee and program developer perspectives. Over the course of a 19-mo period, 2,712 providers completed the in-person, 4-hr didactic and hands-on clinical training session. Due to the increasing requests for training, additional ATACS faculty were trained. Overall, 113 providers were approved to be training faculty. Responses from the trainee surveys indicated high satisfaction with the ATACS training program and illuminated several challenges to using auricular acupuncture with patients. The most common reported barrier to using auricular acupuncture was the lack of obtaining privileges to administer auricular acupuncture within clinical practice. The ATACS program provided a foundational template to increase CIM across the MHS and VHA. The lessons learned in the program’s implementation will aid future CIM training programs and improve program evaluations. Future work is needed to determine the most efficient means of improving CIM credentialing and privileging procedures, standardizing and adopting uniform CIM EHR codes and documentation, and examining the effectiveness of CIM techniques in real-world settings.

Full Reference

Niemtzow, R., Baxter, J., Gallagher, R. M., Pock, A., Calabria, K., Drake, D., Galloway, K., Walter, J., Petri, R., Piazza, T., Burns, S., Hofmann, L., Biery, J. and Buckenmaier, C., 2018. Building Capacity for Complementary and Integrative Medicine Through a Large, Cross-Agency, Acupuncture Training Program: Lessons Learned from a Military Health System and Veterans Health Administration Joint Initiative Project. Military Medicine, 183(11-12), e486-e493.